Feeds

BBC abandons science

And falls into singularity-shaped hole

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

TV BBC TV's venerable science flagship, Horizon, has had a rough ride as it tries to gain a new audience. It's been accused of "dumbing down". That's nothing new - it's a criticism often leveled at it during its 42 year life.

But instead of re-examing its approach, the series' producers have taken the bold step of abandoning science altogether. This week's film, "Human v2.0", could have been made for the Bravo Channel by the Church of Scientology. The subject at hand - augmenting the brain with machinery - was potentially promising, and the underlying question - "what makes a human?" - is as fascinating as ever. Nor is the field short of distinguished scientists, such as Roger Penrose, or philosophers, such as Mary Midgley, who've made strong contributions.

Yet Horizon unearthed four cranks who believed that thanks to computers, mankind was on the verge of transcending the physical altogether, and creating "God" like machines.

"To those in the know," intoned the narrator, "this moment has a name." (We warned you it was cult-like, but it gets worse).

It's not hard to find cranks - the BBC could just as readily have found advocates of the view that the earth rests on a ring of turtles - and in science, yesterday's heresy often becomes today's orthodoxy. But it gets there through a well-established rigorous process - not through unsupported assertions, confusions, and errors a five-year old could unpick.

Let's return to the cult aspect.

The program began, and frequently returned to, shots of spooky silent Midwich Cuckoo children in a forest, apparently about to assert their God-like powers over Human 1.0.

Creepy child, courtesy of BBC's Horizon

Pill-peddler Ray Kurzweil (who pops 15 pills an hour in an attempt to stave off mortality) was cast as the guru. Kurzweil is part-owner of Ray And Terry's Wellness Products, where you can buy Ray's pills, and also read as you chomp along with Ray. Ray's own book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough To Live Forever promises "... a program designed to slow aging and disease processes to such a degree that you should be in good health and good spirits when the more extreme life-extending and life-enhancing technologies - now in development - become available."

[Accompanying the blurb is the necessary legal disclaimer: "These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease." ]

Kurzweil's claims went unchallenged.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.